Daniel Halliday
Feb 1 · Last update 12 days ago.
What has derailed Thai democracy for so long?
Thailand has had a long history of military coups and political and constitutional crises, which have often derailed the democratic process in the country. The country prepares for their latest democratic elections in March, but what has disrupted the democratic process in Thailand so many times over such a long period? Picture: Democracy Monument, Bangkok
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Marginalised poor community’s loyalty to Thaksin Shinawatra
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A culture of coups d'état
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Marginalised poor community’s loyalty to Thaksin Shinawatra

Thaksin Shinawatra made some important changes during his time in power in Thailand, expanding health care coverage to a national level, national education reforms, and promoting small and medium sized business, while being tough on crime, drugs and terrorism. As a result Shinawatra became popular in poorer rural regions and amongst the Thai working classes. This loyalty remains unshaken through the 2006 coup that deposed Shinawatra, through violent protests in 2010 and survived the 2014 coup that removed Shinawatra’s sister Yingluck from her position as Prime Minister. Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (red shirt) movement, and the majority of Northern Thailand’s rural poor, remain in favour of democratic and societal reforms against a middle class and royalist elite that want to bypass democracy, control the country and take power away from the majority.

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A culture of coups d'état

Having established a constitution in 1932, following a coup d'état, Siam transferred from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy but also began a long periods of repeated military rule. Democracy gradually took form in Thai politics through the 1970’s and 80’s, but with frequent military coups taking place and various constitutional crises providing an excuse to do so, Thailand seemed to develop a culture of military takeovers; the countries present 12th coup being in effect since 2014. But with current military junta appointed Prime Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, recently strengthening his position as the country's leader, and pushing back democratic elections once again, democracy doesn’t look set to grace Thai society again anytime soon.

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 8
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DH edited this paragraph
Having established a constitution in 1932, following a coup d'état, Siam transferred from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy but also began a long periods of repeated military rule. Democracy gradually took form in Thai politics through the 1970’s and 80’s, but with frequent military coups taking place and various constitutional crises providing an excuse to do so, Thailand seemed to develop a culture of military takeovers; the countries present 12th coup being in effect since 2014. But with current military junta appointed Prime Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, recently strengthening his position as the country's leader, and pushing back democratic elections once again, democracy doesn’t look set to grace Thai society again anytime soon.
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